THE intolerance of the Church towards error, the natural position of

One who is the custodian of truth, her only reasonable attitude, makes

her forbid her children to read, or listen to, heretical controversy,

or to endeavor to discover religious truth by examining both sides of

the question. This places the Catholic in a position whereby he must

stand aloof from all manner of doctrinal teaching other than that

d by his Church through her accredited ministers. And whatever

outsiders may think of the correctness of his belief and religious

principles, they cannot have two opinions as to the logic and

consistency of this stand he takes. They may hurl at him all the choice

epithets they choose for being a slave to superstition and erroneous

creeds; but they must give him credit for being consistent in his

belief; and consistency in religious matters is too rare a commodity

these days to be made light of.

The reason of this stand of his is that, for him, there can be no two

sides to a question which for him is settled; for him, there is no

seeking after the truth: he possesses it in its fulness, as far as God

and religion are concerned. His Church gives him all there is to be

had; all else is counterfeit. And if he believes, as he should and does

believe, that revealed truth comes, and can come, only by way of

external authority, and not by way of private judgment and

investigation, he must refuse to be liberal in the sense of reading all

sorts of Protestant controversial literature and listening to all kinds

of heretical sermons. If he does not this, he is false to his principles;

he contradicts himself by accepting and not accepting an infallible

Church; he knocks his religious props from under himself and stands--

nowhere. The attitude of the Catholic, therefore, is logical and

necessary. Holding to Catholic principles how can he do otherwise? How

can he consistently seek after truth when he is convinced that he holds

it? Who else can teach him religious truth when he believes that an

infallible Church gives him God's word and interprets it in the true

and only sense?

A Protestant may not assume this attitude or impose it upon those under

his charge. If he does so, he is out of harmony with his principles and

denies the basic rule of his belief. A Protestant believes in no

infallible authority; he is an authority unto himself, which authority

he does not claim to be infallible, if he is sober and sane. He is

after truth; and whatever he finds, and wherever he finds it, he

subjects it to his own private judgment. He is free to accept or

reject, as he pleases. He is not, cannot be, absolutely certain that

what he holds is true; he thinks it is. He may discover to-day that

yesterday's truths are not truths at all. We are not here examining the

soundness of this doctrine; but it does follow therefrom, sound or

unsound, that he may consistently go where he likes to hear religious

doctrine exposed and explained, he may listen to whomever has religious

information to impart. He not only may do it, but he is consistent only

when he does. It is his duty to seek after truth, to read and listen to

controversial books and sermons.

If therefore a non-Catholic sincerely believes in private judgment, how

can he consistently act like a Catholic who stands on a platform

diametrically opposed to his, against which platform it is the very

essence of his religion to protest? How can he refuse to hear Catholic

preaching and teaching, any more than Baptist, Methodist and

Episcopalian doctrines? He has no right to do so, unless he knows all

the Catholic Church teaches, which case may be safely put down as one

in ten million. He may become a Catholic, or lose all the faith he has.

That is one of the risks he has to take, being a Protestant.

If he is faithful to his own principles and understands the Catholic

point of view, he must not be surprised if his Catholic friends do not

imitate his so-called liberality; they have motives which he has not.

If he is honest, he will not urge or even expect them to attend the

services of his particular belief. And a Catholic who thinks that

because a Protestant friend can accompany him to Catholic services, he

too should return the compliment and accompany his friend to Protestant

worship, has a faith that needs immediate toning up to the standard of

Catholicity; he is in ignorance of the first principles of his religion

and belief.

A Catholic philosopher resumes this whole matter briefly, and clearly

in two syllogisms, as follows:


Major. He who believes in an infallible teacher of revelation cannot

consistently listen to any fallible teacher with a view of getting more

correct information than his infallible teacher gives him. To do so

would be absurd, for it would be to believe and at the same time not

believe in the infallible teacher.

Minor. The Catholic believes in an infallible teacher of revelation.

Conclusion. Therefore, the Catholic cannot listen to any fallible

teacher with a view of getting more correct information about revealed

truth than his Church gives him. To do so would be to stultify himself.


Major. He who believes in a fallible teacher--private judgment or

fallible church--is free, nay bound, to listen to any teacher who comes

along professing to have information to impart, for at no time can he

be certain that the findings of his own fallible judgment or church are

correct. Each newcomer may be able to give him further light that may

cause him to change his mind.

Minor. The Protestant believes in such fallible teacher--his private

judgment or church.

Conclusion. Therefore, the Protestant is free to hear, and in perfect

harmony with his principles, to accept the teaching of any one who

approaches him for the purpose of instructing him. He is free to hear

with a clear conscience, and let his children hear, Catholic teaching,

for the Church claiming infallibility is at its worst as good as his

private judgment is at best, namely, fallible.

Religious variations are so numerous nowadays that most people care

little what another thinks or believes. All they ask is that they may

be able to know at any time where he stands; and they insist, as right

reason imperiously demands, that, in all things, he remain true to his

principles, whatever they be. Honest men respect sincerity and

consistency everywhere; they have nothing but contempt for those who

stand, now on one foot, now on the other, who have one code for theory

and another for practice, who shift their grounds as often as

convenience suggests. The Catholic should bear this well in mind. There

can be no compromise with principles of truth; to sacrifice them for

the sake of convenience is as despicable before man as it is offensive

to God.